CMC – Young Barbadian trainer Saffie Joseph Jr continued his tense battle with veteran Todd Pletcher at Gulfstream Park on Sunday, when he won twice on the day’s 11-race card.
The 33-year-old scored with 2-1 choice High Noon Rider in the US$29 000 race nine before returning the winners’ enclosure with another 2-1 bet Lovely Luvy in the $47 000 race 10.
With the brace, Joseph pulled alongside Pletcher at the top of the standings on 29 wins, with Michael Maker and Antonio Sano tied for third, seven back.
Joseph put out just four horses on the day’s card but made the limited appearances count, winning with only his second outing.
That success came over a mile and eighth when Marcos Meneses brought eight-year-old bay gelding High Noon Rider with a late bid to beat the four-year-olds and upward by a head.
They overcame a bump at the start with Donji to sit off the lead as favourite Sharm El Sheikh pulled the eight-horse field through splits of 23.59 seconds for the quarter and 47.39 for the half, with Donji chasing from second and Alien Invasion tracking from third.
Sharm El Sheikh and Donji opened up an eighth lead on the field down the backstretch and when they left the final turn for the stretch run, the pair were still nearly four lengths clear.
But Meneses found tremendous acceleration with High Noon Rider in the lane and caught Sharm El Sheikh on the wire as Donji faded badly to be fourth.
Joseph’s second win also came over distance as he watched jockey Edgard Zayas carry four-year-old roan filly Lovely Luvy to another narrow win over the three-year-old and upward fillies and mares.
Going a mile and sixteenth, Lovely Luvy was trapped on the rails through the half mile run in 48.10 seconds as Lady Nina led under pressure from East Coast Swing with the field in hot pursuit.
Approaching the turn, Zayas switched Lovely Luvy to the outside for the stretch run and Drink On Me emerged as the new lead in the lane.
However, Zayas then got the best out of Lovely Luvy but had to fend off a strong challenge from Yesterdayoncemore along the rails in order to get home by half length.